BIO 203

Anti-Venom

Anti-venom, one of man’s best friends (sorry canines) when it comes to being bitten by a snake that is venomous.  But how is that human society has gone from being bitten by a snake to being cured from the venom?  The answer is simple; by creating a substance derived from the same venom that you were bitten from!

The first antivenom use is unclear, but the first published use of the term antivenom was in the late 19th century.  Since then, the use has grown widely to accompany almost anything that is venomous. There are exceptions though…some venomous species have no antivenom.  These species are some of the most deadly species on the planet.  Luckily, if you are bitten by the Western Cottonmouth, there is antivenom.

But, before you can be given anti-venom, you have to be bitten by a snake.  It is important to make sure you have been bitten by a venomous snake. Some species exist in this world where they will mimic a venomous species (when they are not themselves) to prevent other animals from trying to eat them.  So if after being bit, you experience any of these symptoms, you probably have been bitten by a snake that is venomous:

Following most bites by venomous snakes, there will be pain from the bite and then the symptoms will begin to develop quickly.

Now that you have a general idea of what antivenom is and when it should be used, it’s time to talk about what to do if you are bitten by the Western Cottonmouth and you need antivenom.  What kind would you need?  There are many different types of antivenoms, there are over 20 different types, all catering to a different species or genus of venomous snakes.  For the Western Cottonmouth, the antivenom of choice is called CroFab which stands for Crotalidae Polyvalent Immune Fab (Ovine).

  The first part of the name refers to the subfamily that the snake belongs to (the pit vipers). 

The second part of the name means that the antivenom will act against more than one time of venom. This makes sense because the antivenom is derived from four species of snakes (the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, the Mojave Rattlesnake, and the Cottonmouth; any of the cottonmouth species).  All four of the species combined provides the venom necessary to create antivenom for all the North American pit viper species.

The last part of the name, Ovine, refers to the sheep.  As part of the production of antivenom, the milked venom from the four species are combined and injected into a sheep.  This causes an immune response, causing the body to form antibodies to combat the venom.  These antibodies are then harvested through the blood of the sheep and used to form the antivenom.

Unfortunately, the use of this antivenom requires a person to undergo special eligibility requirements as shown below.

The use of the antivenom is recommended within the time period of six hours following the initial bite.  This is to help in the aid of preventing clinical deterioration and prevent potential signs of systemic coagulation abnormalities.  So take a look, click here.

The snakebite severity score (SSS) refers to a scale that is used to assess the severity of a snakebite coming from a venomous snake.  The score takes into account the effects on 6 broad categories of the body; including the local wound, pulmonary, cardiovascular, GI tract, hematologic and the nervous system.

According to most envenomation treatments, several steps are agreed upon based on the seriousness of the bite.  Stated below is the treatment procedure for the use of the antivenom CroFab.  But the amount of antivenom ever used is strictly based on the amount of venom that a person receives from the bite, never the body size of a person.

Additionally after administering the CroFab antivenom, the patient should be monitored for up to an hour to be able to assess the response of the antivenom against the venom.  Also the patient should be monitored in case of an allergic response to the antivenom. There are known instances of rejection of the antivenom.

 

 

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***DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE IS TO INFORM BUT SHOULD NEVER BE USED TO DIAGNOSIS ANY BITE FROM A VENOMOUS CREATURE. IF BITTEN, STRUCK, STUNG, ETC. SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION BY A TRAINED PROFESSIONAL. ALSO UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES IS IT ADVISABLE TO EVER HANDLE A VENOMOUS ANIMAL UNLESS YOU ARE A TRAINED PROFESSIONAL AND LICENSED TO DO SO.